Milano Due, the concrete origins of Berlusconi

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A line of people wait to pay their respects before an upright stone sculpture with funeral wreaths. It is the statue that Silvio Berlusconi commissioned from Pietro Cascella, the same artist who designed the underground mausoleum in which his ashes rest at his residence in Arcore, on the outskirts of Milan.

The abstract sculpture was also commissioned by the tycoon to commemorate the construction of Milano Due, his first real estate hit. From time to time, when he walked through this square, he gave orders to clean it up.

Milano Due (or MI2) is one of the first eccentric projects that relate the mentality of the former prime minister, who died last Monday at the age of 86. It is a luxury residential neighborhood in the municipality of Segrate, on the outskirts of Milan, which was born at the beginning of the 1970s with the idea that its 2,700 families would only have to leave it to go to work. It has all the necessary services: shops, schools, nurseries, shops, pharmacies, bars, hotels, gyms, beauty salons, restaurants... and even a church and an artificial lake next to green areas for walks. You can even walk to the nearby San Raffaele hospital, where he passed away Il Cavaliere. All built in a maze of infinite bridges that connect the streets without having to cross a zebra crossing.

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“It is the safest neighborhood in the world because to go from one place to another you do not cross a street, so it is ideal for families and children. In addition, we have 24-hour security guards”, says Stefano Bini, a journalist for Rai, public television, who lives in this place, in front of the artificial lake. Soon its usual swans and ducks will inhabit it again. The place is called "el laguito", and it has fountains and an "island of ducklings", but at the moment there are only dozens of huge turtles floating in its green waters, under the old Mediaset offices. This fort was also the site of the headquarters of the first private Italian television, TeleMilano 58, which began broadcasting in 1974. Canale 5 arrived through its network, the first private channel with a national reach, which gave rise to the revolution of the small screen with the empire of Mediaset. The rest of the story is already known.

Nearby is the Maximilian Bistrot, one of Milano Due's many establishments. It was there that he took the last photo of Berlusconi before entering the hospital for the last time. He sat at a table overlooking the artificial lake and ate two or three popsicles. His inseparable companion, Marta Fascina, disconsolate at her funeral, scolded him for having a sweet tooth: “But how many are you taking?” She told him, according to Massimiliano Albanese, the owner of the premises, recalls. His seven-year-old daughter and Milan fan wanted a photo with the politician, who appeared deeply deteriorated.

“His first real estate experiment was in Brugherio, but he had great successes in Milano Due and Milano Tre,” says Bini. He said it was a neighborhood inside a park, and not the other way around. Now they need to put the swans back. It's because it's a neighborhood where you can breathe clean air and the scent of flowers all year round, not like in Lambrate, next door, where you only breathe pollution”.

Each building is independent, with its own security guard, and although no one dares to reveal the price of their houses, between 100 and 300 square meters, they predict that it is the price for middle-class families in Milan. “I fell in love with this place twenty years ago and there's no one to get me out of here,” promises Laura Tosi, a lifelong Berlsuconi voter. The community expenses are very high, but the neighbors see them justified by the maintenance of the green areas and the cost of the security guards.

Next to Cascella's statue they have placed a guest book in which residents say goodbye in writing to the tycoon who built their homes. In the concrete origins of the Cayman there is no room for dissent. "I'm not well, look... we've been crying for three days," promises Lucía, 69, still affected. “Because my two daughters both work for their companies, one at Publitalia and the other at Mediaset. And Silvio Berlusconi, at Christmas, always made the basket for everyone, even in moments of crisis. He was truly a great person."

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